disposable time

A portrait of Ann holding a cheap ballpoint pen. 

Her profile is sharp against a background of a dusty parking lot at a trailhead. The bridge of her nose is a straight line and her complexion is striking to those who have never seen a cherub grow into an angel.  

 

Most people looking at the picture probably overlook the petite silver bracelet on her wrist as it bends the pen toward her mouth in a joking gesture. I recognize the bracelet as a gift I gave her last Christmas.  

 

I keep this picture taped to my dashboard and I glance at it sometimes. 

 

My flannel creeps up my arms as I drive. My car rattles. Bass and layered guitar riffs quiver under my seat. The tears on my cheeks tremble down faster and faster as hot fluid overfills my eyelids again and again. I start to consider what it was like the day I tried to see about heaven the first time. I sat in a field of autumn flowers. Surrounded by yellows and deep dark greens and mulch logs and caterpillars and cut my wrists. I cut my hair. I cried.  

 

Dried blood was still stuck to my arms when I showed up in English class an hour and a half later. I felt like an attention whore so I hid my arms in the sleeves of my pastel pink sweater.  

 

Even after it had been cut, my hair was pretty considerable in length. I liked to leave its light brown strands twisted about one another and my shoulders, getting caught in backpack straps, and flirting with my upper back when my collar was low enough. I wore a lot of rings, too. I had one with a big white stone on one hand and silver rings and rings with gems on almost every finger. I didn't keep a ring on my left ring finger because I was nervous that people would ask me about being married and I hated the topic badly enough to make intentional effort to avoid it completely. 

 

I didn’t visit heaven in the flower field and I’m glad I didn’t because I wrote the note in some swamp-colored gel pen and I can’t even remember what I was upset about that time. It had something to do with Ann, I think. But she wouldn’t have wanted me to die either.   

 

I’m driving up a mountain. This is the mountain where Ann lives. The place where someone grows up is the place where they live, no matter how far they move away. She used to bus into town in elementary school and stay at my house on weeknights. It was a sleepover five days a week.  

 

“Kimberly, let’s go out into the city,” she’d whisper into my ear at age sixteen. She had a car and a license and we would flee the domestic mundane evenings of eating prepared meals. We’d go get Jack in the Box and stay up until the adult cartoons on cable channels got too weird to watch. We weren’t on enough LSD to appreciate them.  

 

After high school, she got a job on the mountain at a bar and she never came into town anymore. This is why I am driving up to visit her. It has been years since I last saw her. I need to see her now. This is the mountain where Ann lives. It is the same mountain where she sits cross-legged and smokes weed in the afternoon sunlight until the odor of memories and moths and dust is gone.  

 

I am drunk.  

 

I have been drinking shots of tequila five an hour for the last three. My mind fidgets with the dimensions of the road. The double yellow line barely visible in my headlights moves from my left side to my right side like a brilliant dance of a swaying body in the midnight air.  

 

I am drowsy.  

The music throbs. It is made of hollow echoes. Sometimes it is made of police sirens and screeches of metal. A cowbell falls down a flight of stairs. The vocalist has been edited into a robotic impersonation of a human being. Below all of it, a bassist is strumming with her eyes closed, standing just out of the spotlight. The lead singer stands in the light. The keyboardist and the drummer don’t have the mobility of instruments to move out of the light. 

 

The bassist is roaming into a corner; the only restriction placed on her is in the cable connecting the bass to an amp to the artist to the crowd.  

 

A car rushes by to my left and honks abruptly, and my eyes are now wide open. I pull the flannel off right arm after left, using my knees to drive. Drums hit hard to the beat of my breath with almost as much sweat and intensity as I’ve got sticking my palms to the steering wheel. Confusion dribbles from my mouth thick as sap and as indistinct as fir trees from a distance. 

 

The flannel is in the seat next to me. 

 

I don’t want to be here anymore. I can’t stop picturing Ann’s face when she was sitting in the bathtub wearing only a flannel. Her long dark hair was damp and stuck to her back and chest. Her make-up was on her hands. Blood ran down to the drain. Her bare legs sat in the shallow soiled bath water.  

Her mouth stood open. Her eyes were pinned closed.  

 

I wish I hadn’t seen it. For extremely selfish reasons, I wish I hadn’t been there. But no one can know what happens in alternate realities, the ones where I wasn’t there. My drunken mind coughs on the idea that there are an infinite number of universes where Ann dies that day her baby died. It wasn’t even really a baby yet. But when we talked about it, we talked about it like it lived.  

 

Ann and I used to sit in her attic. She would draw intricate pictures in ink and refuse to explain them and I would ramble into a crappy microphone attached to a plastic recorder. What was it that I used to talk about? I had hundreds of hours recorded on cassette tapes and none of them were worth a second listen. 

 

I thought I would be a wildly famous radio personality. I’d hit a button and begin a non-existent radio broadcast. Let me tell you about traffic on I-70. Let me tell you about the new world record for an eight-hundred-mile hiking trail. Let me tell you about weather. Let me tell you if your wife is cheating.  

 

I never became a radio personality because I didn’t know enough about the craft. I never listened to any

radio, just created it. You can’t Xerox without an original. I’d watch Ann scribble out the shape of an octopus and then I’d crack an encyclopedia and ramble on about the nature of octopi and fabricate details about their personal lives. I guess that was another big reason I couldn’t work in radio: I lied too much. I couldn’t look good without lying and I never looked good when I lied.  

 

I am ugly. 

 

Ann is not ugly and she is my favorite person in the entire world. I saw her step on a tack once and she cursed and screamed but was still beautiful.  

 

Ann has waist-length hair, only a few inches longer than mine, but much darker. She is short and this gives her some sort of power that tall people like me take for granted and can’t achieve. Her hair somehow always swung around without getting tangled and I suspected that she probably spent a lot of time caring for it when no one was around.  

 

I was infatuated with the drawing of the octopus. She spent hours on the suction cups on the tentacles alone while I watched and dipped chicken nuggets in mustard. Thirteen minutes of silence and pen scratches were recorded, the cassette tape spinning as I watched her small hand move across the page.

 

She was the only person who could silence me.  

 

She never asked my opinion because she didn’t need it. She was good at expression. Her eyes were green. Her cheeks were wide. The brim of her coffee mug was always stained with lipstick. Her shoes were always pristine.  

When she finished the drawing of the octopus, she held it out at arm’s length and smiled. She turned it to show me and I saw seven of the tentacles flying out behind the animal and one tentacle held an ink pen in front of it. 

“Very meta,” I nodded, mouth full of chicken. “I like it.” 

 

“Do you think Drake will like it?” Ann addressed the envelope she had set aside.  

Drake Williams 

1000 Juniper Dr. 

Grand Junction, CO 81501 

“Yeah.” I remember shutting off the recorder with an eye roll. “He likes everything you do.” 

 

Ann grinned. “You’re right. I just miss him.” 

 

“At least you send mail.” 

 

“He never really responds to it.” 

 

“Dude, he’s busy twenty hours a day or some shit.” 

 

“He’s in Georgia.” 

 

“Same thing when you’re working in construction.” 

 

Ann licked the envelope and shrugged. “Like someone with mustard all over her would know.” 

Her only complaint about long distance relationships was the possibility of adultery and she knew he didn’t have time for other women. He hadn’t been gone that long and I hated hearing about it. I wasn’t that excited when he said he was going away because I knew it would break Ann’s heart and I would have to keep her together. For every pint of ice cream she would have eaten alone if they had broken up, she and I went out happily for a sundae to assure us both that things were okay.  

 

Before Drake graduated they were the perfect high school couple, more developed than those couples tend to be. He was tall, taller than me, and he wore sweaters a few sizes too big and pants one size too small. He smelled like rosemary most of the time and his hands were soft in the palms from being so philosophical, calloused on the left fingertips from guitar. In the summers, Drake and Ann and I and some other kids from the neighborhood would float around the pool like plankton until the sun set and the pool’s interior created many moons with underwater bulbs of light. Drake would always take Ann out on hikes and sometimes even out of the state, something that no one else in our grade ever did. She would illustrate his favorite plants for him and sometimes write music about him and print his picture to hang up on her wall.  

 

When Drake’s mother died, Ann held his hand. They didn’t say anything at all. He told me this was the best thing she could have done. 

 

They went to a wedding for Drake’s aunt and danced slowly. Her hair covered her back, opened from the fabric of the dress she wore. He wore brown shoes with a grey suit and no tie and whispered that he loved her. Her big teeth were exposed to his collar as she ducked her head in a blush. She loved him, too.  

 

They had the same birthday, three years apart.  

 

They had the same beautiful mind with so many wires that it was difficult for me to tell which color could have been cut to make them fall out of love.  

 

I couldn’t even imagine being that close with someone at that point in my life. I would pop a hot pocket in the microwave for two minutes and think about how long it had been since dinosaurs roamed. I did my best to break down 65 million years into my year, my week, my day, and my minute multiplied by who-knows-how many if there are a half million seconds in a thousand years and dinosaurs hadn’t been here in a few dozen thousand times that. Then my microwave would beep. My food was cooked in 120 seconds and I still hadn’t solved any mathematics of the universe.  

 

My mom and dad have always been around and I’m really thankful that I have a normal nuclear family. My mom is a hard worker. She expected a lot from my sisters and me because of it. My dad is loud but pleasant, and his bald head has a reflection from being so close to light fixtures. In high school I decided that being my own person meant rejecting my parents and all of the love they stood for. Apparently a person can be influenced by concepts that are not provided by their parents. I spent an increasing amount of time on Ann’s mountain or walking around outside my house. Suffer for art. No one understands. I liked to tumble stones from Ann’s yard across my rings then throw them in the air and try to hit them with my hand so they went ripping toward the ground.  

 

My rings would get dirty when I used to work with charcoal on paper. After seeing the life Ann could create with ink, I decided to pick up my own medium. If I couldn’t Xerox radio broadcasts, I’d Xerox Ann’s ideas for art. My sooty fingerprints would leave unintended designs on the otherwise clean paper. You will never find “irresponsible” in a bio about me because it is already written in code on everything I touch. 

 

There were many times that I found myself without inspiration but I once turned to a sonogram and began to mark up a clean page with my rendition of the womb and fetus. I called the piece “Preparation” and it won a contest that meant it was on display in an art museum among other student work for an entire month. I asked my mom and dad to come to the premiere and even though my dad made it and smiled, he only stayed for about ten minutes before heading to work and my mom didn't show up at all.  

She told me at home the next day that she didn't think I should be spending time on “Ann’s liberal hobbies,” and she thought I might get the wrong idea if she came out to support the exhibit opening.  

“What do you know about sonograms anyway?” She was quick to accuse the ignorant. I guess we were different in that way.  

 

I acted cool when Ann told me she was pregnant. She didn’t seem bothered so I didn’t ask any follow-up questions, mostly because I didn’t even know she was having sex and I thought that I would have heard about that before I found out about the pregnancy.  

 

How far along are you? 

 

How long have you known? 

 

Did you tell Drake? 

 

Cool. 

 

I went home alone and picked up the plastic tape recorder and breathed into it for a few minutes before I told it all about the abuses animals sustain to make ice cream. I told it about the human trafficking required getting chocolate to the middle of the U.S.A. I told it about the chemicals in rainbow sprinkles and the steel machines used to manufacture them. I ruined an entire ice cream sundae with my words and my thoughts about Ann’s pregnancy put a cherry on top. I recorded over that tape the next day without a second thought.  

 

Ann called me. I pictured her swiveling in her office chair thumbing a textbook when she told me she was going to have a baby sister. 

 

“A sister?” 

 

“My mom is pregnant.” 

 

“Does she know about you and Drake?” 

 

A beat. I wondered if she could talk about being pregnant yet. The word was too big for her mouth the first time she said it and she only ever spit it like it tasted like latex and felt like splinters. Her beautiful lips and teeth did not deserve such tortures. But I knew it was also possible she just couldn’t say it on a landline in her parent’s house.  

 

“No, she doesn’t know.” 

 

Of course, it was only a few more weeks of celebrating her mother and incoming sister before I was at her house and she started screaming. I had to knock my way into Ann’s bathroom and she was damp with blood and desolation. She wore only a flannel.  

 

I began to sweat and I started to mumble something, something that wasn’t words, before I grabbed her by the shoulders and held her. How uncomfortable it was for me to hold her. I was glad she couldn’t hear my thoughts and how I believed the moment was mine and was about my moment with her, rather than just about her. My thoughts are my own more often than they should be. I thought about the lace baby socks I had seen on the counter on my way into the house that day.  

 

Her house in the mountains was a scenic place for her mother to bring home a child. The trees produced clean air and dropped yellow leaves on the bassinet and pine needles stabbed the bare bottoms of Ann’s feet as she stood in the driveway greeting her new baby sister. Drake stood in the yard with her and greeted the baby excitedly like it was his own and congratulated her mother. 

 

Her mom couldn’t make it to our graduation because the newborn needed to stay home that day. 

There was a day that Drake and I went out for burgers and I understood why they were in love. He was truly attractive in body and mind. His head was shaved close and he listened to a lot of Simon and Garfunkel and told me about his dreams to own a bicycle shop in Denver. He collected vinyl records that wouldn’t play anymore, I think with half a thought to melt them into sculptures. 

 

“How long have you known Ann?” I asked him as we walked down the middle of the street I lived on.  

 

“We met in fifth grade.” 

 

“That’s what I thought.” I had known Ann since first grade.  

 

Drake told me a story about when he was a little boy and his mom gave him a grape-sized tiger’s eye stone and told him not to lose it. His mom had been a nice blonde woman, tall like him, introverted like him, but always ready with some sort of friendly quip to bring all of the negativity out of a room.  

He loved holding it in his hand and turning it over and watching the gold and black lines move across it as the light bounced off of the stone in different ways. He would put it back in the sage colored velvet bag and move it around inside with his fingers. When he held it, he felt important because his mommy wanted him to have it. He never considered it a gift; it was more like the symbol of his mother as who she was without him. A woman, not just a mom. A woman who bought stones from a crystal store: Kit. As he spoke, I traced the edges of my tiger’s eye ring on my right thumb and spun it around.  

 

I smiled at the thought of a young Drake, the size of a sapling with a hankering for fruit snacks, sitting legs out on the carpet of his childhood home completely fixated on a rock. I was surprised at how much Drake as a kid reminded me of me of myself as an adult. 

 

He only had it for a couple of days before it slipped out of his tiny denim pants pocket on the playground and when he got home, he realized it was gone. He checked the lost and found and tore apart his bedroom but it never resurfaced. Every time he cleaned his room as a man in his twenties, he still kept an eye out for the little green bag with the tiger’s eye in it.  

 

“I never mentioned it to my mom and I know it’s no big deal but I’ve always felt like I let her down.” 

 There was a canary in his voice when he told me this, and said that he always wanted to name a little girl Kit in her honor. Our shoes tread lightly on the sidewalk as we thought about what it meant to be a little kid again. He pulled out a cigarette and handed me one. We lit them with matches and I understood why Ann was in love with him. He wore a baggy grey sweater and hugged me under one extra-large sleeve and rested his chin on the top of my head.  

 

I am driving with only one hand. They said to keep your hands at 10 and 2 and somehow I always ended up with my left hand at 12 and my right hand on my thigh or on the gear shift or reaching over to the passenger seat to grab the flannel to wrap it around my shoulders while the road swung like a pendulum under the wheels of my car.  

 

I am the person Drake relies on now that Ann is gone. He thinks that I am good at storytelling and he thinks I am immortal the same way I think he’s charming. It turns out that Ann was cheating and when he found out, they broke up. She moved to Montana. It doesn’t matter what he thinks now though. He isn’t the one driving to see her.  

 

I am soaring past silhouettes of trees and doing my best to keep my heart and hands steady enough to glide around turns. Cymbals smash together. The kick drum smashes the cymbals. The keyboardist’s knobby fingers smash the drum.  

 

“I want to go to Las Vegas,” I say out loud to no one. I glance over at the passenger seat and no one responds. 

 

“I should not be driving.” Again, no one responds. No one likes to give me space when I speak. No one and I have a lot in common. I slow down to fifty miles per hour as I blur past a speed limit sign that says the limit is thirty-five. I feel like the seven-year-old I heard about on the news who stole construction machinery and managed to drive it over three miles before they stopped him.  

 

The drunken feeling is overtaking me.  

 

Everything is motion. The pines collide with the silhouettes of prancing deer that materialize into more pines. For a moment, I see a glimpse of fire that turns out to be a reflection of a single headlight and is my left headlight dead? Am I dead? What happens when someone dies? It would be brave to assert that heaven and hell must be made up and I am buckling my seatbelt and turning on the cabin light in my four door sedan as it continues to cruise the devil's temptingly dangerous path to bringing another driver (maybe a car full of other people?) into my constant state of suicide. Would I be sent to hell for suicide? I would definitely be sent to hell for manslaughter. I think they should allow a lawyer before the people killed by suicide get automatically sent to hell.   

 

“Heaven and hell don’t exist.” Drake said this definitively when I asked him about the fate of the baby he and Ann lost. “Even in Christian myth, those places aren’t real. The eternal life that is shoved into those passages is a heaven on Earth. On Earth as it is in heaven. You can make things up about getting sent here or there and pushing a stone up a hill or floating upward through golden mist eternally but the only heaven you and I will ever know is this one. The one that we stitch together every day. Stitched with yellow thread into a scrap of green fleece.” 

I thought I understood what he meant. Now I wonder why I even thought it was okay to discuss. I told him that I was a little bit worried about what would happen to me once my heart stopped and my brain’s electricity evaporated from just one more scrap of rotting matter polluting Colorado’s soil.  

 

“Plenty of people believe in heaven, Kimberly. If you do, I don’t blame you. It’s a safe belief in some ways. All I’m saying is when I die, I may cease to exist completely and if that’s the case, I’d like to know that I lived on this planet doing what I could to better it and better myself.” Drake was writing in the margins of a stained white flyer for a defunct comedy troupe. A weird wiry man handed it to him on the street when we walked through downtown to his apartment weeks earlier. He was missing Ann at this point, disappointed in himself and feeling nostalgic for things that never even happened. “That’s all I know right now. I do what I can to keep my own reality coherent. In my mind’s eye, Earth is all we’ve got. Today that means that this is heaven.” 

 

I remember I looked around at his bedroom, full of records that couldn’t be played and thought that it didn’t feel too much like heaven.  

 

When I was a little girl, I thought I knew a lot of things. I knew that the TV remote belonged in the coffee table drawer. I knew that peach and apricot were similar colored crayons but I could also tell them apart without reading the label. I knew that I would do anything to not let my mom down.  

Now I only have drunken conjectures and the sense that I'm wrong about almost everything that my mind comes up with.  

 

If I wasn't drunk, I’d trust my head more. 

 

If I was an octopus, I’d sit still long enough for Ann to draw me. 

 

If I was seven years old in my backyard covered in dust, I’d probably be a plastic toaster and I probably would have known better than to sit outside getting faded and I probably would not desire to be anything other than cracked plastic, yellowed pool balls covered in lint and buried under old typewriter cartridges with ink so dry and tape so worn that every time a shaking finger hit a key no symbols appeared. I would probably not feel heavy if I operated on Korean batteries stolen from the TV remote instead of on paychecks stolen from free time and $4/hour of laying on her lap on floral bedspreads working tip wage instead of being present at times of day other than woolen two am, collecting wax like a menorah, writing my chrome cravings and dented desires into my ankles with broken glass. I used to love green glass the way I loved second-hand smoke and I used to know that leaving my shoes in the sun made them fall apart faster and I still don’t really care but I kind of wish I did? I only think about who I am in relation to the world when I realize that I am not a plastic toaster, my lungs are not balloons from Ann’s last birthday party with confetti stuck around the edges and cutting in but the grass does still itch and love notes tear where they are folded and I would rather be ten minutes from now cranking down the window of Ann’s rattling car blowing cigarette smoke toward the half moon than over an ankle-deep pool of drowning finger puppets as a little girl, thinking it was easy to save what is valuable.  

 

Finally, I make contact with the guardrail. 

 

The windshield shatters with a web of cracks made by a reckless spider in an instant. Light is coming from in front and behind and underneath because my headlights are forced back at me as they hit a stand of trees and my cabin light is still on and I am sure that I am also emitting a light, artificial and flimsy. The seatbelt holds me hostage like a robber has come up over my left shoulder with a blunt dagger and held it to my neck while I run straight forward away from the scare. The music in my car gets louder and the vocals sound like they are made of ash. The guitar chords sound like yarn cut with a car key, drums blink like a stoplight with a power outage, and I hammer my fists into the steering wheel as an airbag cuts it open. 

 

I do what I can to keep my own reality coherent. Today that means that this is heaven. 

 

I am driving my car through the guardrail with the crashing screech of metal on metal and the throbbing bass and I remember that I am driving to the house Ann no longer lives in because I got drunk and told Drake that I was the one Ann was cheating with because it is true and I want his forgiveness. Ann and I were always lovers, even when she loved Drake, even when Drake helped me understand things about the world, even when I didn’t think that it was wrong. The front of my car is bent towards me but I don’t know now if this is physically true or an illusion of the alcohol. My face coils away from the closeness of the air bag and the smell of dust and oxygen and motor oil flood in through the exposed interior from where the car’s front was ripped off. 

 

I think about the plastic tape recorder I used to hold like a trophy and speak to with the confidence of a senator.  

 

The car door unlatches with surprising ease. I stumble out and fall onto my wrists and my right cheek sears with pain. I put my palm in my mouth and get blood and asphalt on my lips. The back of my hand slides across my cheek. Behind me and almost out of my consciousness, I hear a snap and the music stops.  

 

I hear another snap. Footstep. I haul myself upright and stare into the dark. Most of my vision is blurred and the night is so black that it is almost blue. The only place illuminated is the tree trunk in front of my headlight and everything else is velvet.  

 

Another snap. My breath stops. Sobriety clenches my heart like a strawberry in a calloused fist but there is too much alcohol behind my eyes to put out the fire in my brain.  

 

I swallow. 

 

Drake is standing in front of the car's wreckage.  

 

His grey sweater is torn like he had been in the crash. His hair is too short to be messed up and his eyes are a shade of translucent blue spruce. Soil thinly masks his cheekbones but his face is striped by tears. 

 

“I miss my mom,” he says.  

 

I nod. My eyes well. Drake stands over me, even taller because I am looking up from the ground. There are no other cars.  

 

“Did you get to say goodbye?” 

 

“No,” he tells me. “Same with Ann.” 

 

I can’t look at him so I look down instead. The lines in my hands are filled with fine dirt and hairline lacerations glowing red. Some of my fingers are swollen so my rings are stuck tightly, including the tiger’s eye ring on my right thumb. I lube it up with some sweat from my forehead and use my teeth until it finally comes free.  

 

The ring thumps into Drake’s hand from my underhand toss.  

 

“I don’t care what you did,” he mumbles. “You are still important to me. You just have to know that I can’t trust you now. Maybe never.” 

 

“I understand.” 

 

“Take deep breaths.” 

 

I do. 

 

“Stand up.” 

 

My hands are bloody and I try to rely on my toes alone but my canvas shoes are torn and have been for months. But I stand.  

 

“If you had died...” 

 

“Then what?” I mutter. Then what? 

 

I walk away from the crash and the hallucinations it brought with it. I am going back down the mountain, the direction I came from.  

 

Slowly, the sky lightens and the blackness becomes dark-wash denim. I shuffle my feet along the white line on the asphalt.  

 

I stop and heave, fluids burning my throat and flowing out of me. I am a full jug of orange juice poured out on the sidewalk. I try not to splash. I cough. I taste blood. I keep moving down the mountain.  

My arms are scraped and shivering because I have no sleeves. My legs are ripped under the rips in my jeans. I haven’t been this dirty and torn since the first day I tried to learn how to skateboard.  

One time, I walked with Ann down this mountain. We walked nine miles because we had the time to do it but it made my feet blister and Ann got a peeling sunburn, even though she was wearing a flannel. 

I shiver and remember that the flannel is left in the car. I am relieved. The dashboard photo of Ann is also left in the car.  

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if the car caught on fire?  

 

Explode the car. 

 

I stop for a second and catch myself with my hands on my knees, doing my best not to vomit again. I close my eyes. I fill my lungs enormously with air.  

Explode.  

Let it all burn. 

 

I brace myself to stand up and as I heave into the air, the sun comes over the skyline. I wonder if Ann would have cared this time if I had died. I wonder if Drake would have cared. Did I stop talking to my parents for these people? Have I replaced my sisters with a friend family that’s all but gone? 

 

I feel like a stray. It is possible that it is my own fault.  

 

I do what I can to keep my own reality coherent. Out of the back of my mind past the fog and contrition, I begin a radio report like the ones I used to do in Ann’s attic.  

 

I imagine pressing the little plastic button with a circle on it to record. My nonexistent radio cast has begun again. I dedicate it to Ann and my mother because like them, this radio cast will be without words. I have not heard words from either of them in months.  

 

I am stumbling down the road and I am thankful to stumble. I raise my hands out in front of me. My biceps fucking hurt from substance exhaustion and existential sadness and I am thankful to feel it. The soreness reminds me that my hands are finally off of that sticky steering wheel and I’m out of the car on my feet. Driving was making me tired. 

 

My hands are rotten with asphalt and it reminds me of drawing in charcoal the way I used to and the way that I will again soon. Maybe this afternoon. I am so glad that I still have this afternoon. I almost shredded the rest of my afternoons forever. I destroyed a car but I don’t need it. I don’t need it the way I needed to get out of it.  

 

The sun traces the edges of my hands with gold. The sweat in my eyes is welcome. My breathing is broken. I feel like a kid as I scuffle down the roadside and I find it curious that so few people remember what it’s like to be vulnerable. Ann moved away to avoid that very feeling. We all used to be kids but I guess some people have an easier time growing up than me. Some people aren’t given the chance to keep on living. Some lose the stone they are trusted to protect. Some people are never given a stone at all. People like me recognize the weighty responsibility in a prized possession and still throw it underhand into the woods.  

 

I realize I am passionate about the feeling I have right now. Linear time dissolves like sand washed away through this second and now this second and this one where every second feels like its own important swatch of time.  

 

A half dozen stratus clouds stretch above the horizon as the sky fades from periwinkle to powder blue. The trees are emerging from their colorless obscurity and making the sound of bristles against deep, damp smells. Until this moment on this road, I believed every color was desperate. Looking around me, I have found the palette I am content to be a part of.   

 

Drake told me about this.  

 

This is heaven. 

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